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Know Your Lore: The Sources of Magic, part 1

The World of Warcraft is an expansive universe. You're playing the game, you're fighting the bosses, you know the how -- but do you know the why? Each week, Matthew Rossi and Anne Stickney make sure you Know Your Lore by covering the history of the story behind World of Warcraft.

Where does magic come from?

Specifically, in the Warcraft universe, where does it come from? That's actually a complex question, because there are many different kinds of magic practiced in the setting as a whole. We know of the nature magic of the druids and the elemental magic of the shaman (and that these two disparate types of magic often seem to relate to each other while remaining discrete; we know of the fel magic practiced by warlocks and the Burning Legion, and the pure arcane arts of mages. There's also the Holy Light as demonstrated by priests and paladins, the shadowy magics also tapped by some kinds of priests and warlocks as well, and even the raw necromantic power that seems unique to the Scourge, some Forsaken, and death knights. All of these different kinds of magic are magic, and yet each seems to draw from its own source.

Just on Azeroth, we have seen many kinds of magical power and many focusing points, or fonts, of various kinds of power. Several have descended from one another, while still others have intruded due to the interference of various entities. One thing is clear, that there are many paths to power beyond that inherent to the average denizen of the world.

What, therefore, are these sources of magic?

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Lore, Know your Lore, Wrath of the Lich King, Cataclysm

BlizzCon 2010: Costume contest gallery

The BlizzCon costume contest took place yesterday afternoon with roughly 90 entries (give or take a few, depending on how you count group efforts). We did have a screenshot of one entrant in black that was unfortunately too dark to include, but this is an otherwise comprehensive gallery of all contest entrants, the five finalists and winner. There were a number of extraordinary costumes this year, and we highly recommend giving them a look. However, I think Jay Mohr was correct in observing that it's only a matter of time before someone's going to topple over on digitigrade stilts. Please, folks -- it's okay to suffer for your art, but it's not okay to break your ankles over it!

The five finalists (you'll find them toward the end of the gallery) portrayed Ysera, the female monk from Diablo III, Jaina Proudmoore, the female witch doctor from Diablo III, and Illidan Stormrage. The eventual winner was Christina Estrada as the female monk.



BlizzCon 2010 is upon us! WoW Insider has all the latest news and information. We're bringing you liveblogging of the WoW panels, interviews with WoW celebrities and attendees and of course, lots of pictures of people in costumes. It's all here at WoW Insider!

Filed under: BlizzCon, Arts and Crafts

Know Your Lore: The naga, part 1


The World of Warcraft is an expansive universe. You're playing the game, you're fighting the bosses, you know the how -- but do you know the why? Each week, Matthew Rossi and Anne Stickney make sure you Know Your Lore by covering the history of the story behind World of Warcraft.
You will be more than you have ever been ... promised the voices. And when the time comes, for what we grant you ... you will serve us well ...
The scaly, serpentine naga of Azeroth's oceans have been plaguing players since Warcraft 3, and in Cataclysm, their influence grows even more prevalent than before. Though we've heard tales of the naga throughout the game, only the motivations of Lady Vashj in The Burning Crusade were made somewhat clear. As for the naga on Azeroth, they simply seem to be out to kill ... well, everything. It's the origins of the naga, however, that bring them into play in Cataclysm, and with the introduction of Vash'jir, we'll be seeing a lot more of them.

The naga were originally the Highborne nobles that sought to control the powers of the Well of Eternity. Led by Queen Azshara, leader of all kaldorei prior to the Sundering, the Highborne were magic users and high-ranked members of kaldorei nobility who wanted nothing more than to worship their beloved queen and grant her anything she wished. Unfortunately, what she wished was total global domination -- and the way to achieve that presented itself in the form of the Burning Legion.

WARNING: The following post contains some small spoilers for the upcoming Cataclysm expansion. If you wish to remain spoiler-free, do not continue.

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Filed under: Lore, Know your Lore

Cataclysm Press Event: War of the Ancients raid confirmed

World of Raids got to sit down and have a chat with Game Director Tom Chilton during the recent Cataclysm press event, and along with information regarding raids, classic dungeon revamps and new instances was the revelation that the Caverns of Time will not be ignored in the coming expansion. In fact, players will be seeing a very familiar event that had a whole trilogy of novels written about it: The War of the Ancients.

The War of the Ancients covers the events of the Sundering that originally split Azeroth into the shattered continents we see today. As yet there's no information as to what kind of role players will have in the war, although Chilton did say that this will not be an event that is available upon release -- it will be part of the progression on the fight against Deathwing. Despite this, I know many players will be excited at the chance to finally see the events of the war firsthand. The biggest question in my mind though is which timeline we will be addressing; the original one, referenced in Warcraft III, or the timeline of the War of the Ancients Trilogy, and whether or not Broxigar, Rhonin and Krasus will make an appearance. Check out the full interview for more details on raids, instances, and questlines that are old favorites.

Filed under: News items, Cataclysm

Know Your Lore: Elven evolution

The World of Warcraft is an expansive universe. You're playing the game, you're fighting the bosses, you know the how, but do you know the why? Each week, Matthew Rossi and Anne Stickney make sure you Know Your Lore by covering the history of the story behind World of Warcraft.

I love reading the comments on KYL. Sometimes you guys have some really great ideas, and sometimes you guys know just where to poke a hole in whatever fanciful theory I've got out for discussion -- but by and large, it's just nice to see people asking questions and thinking. The bonus to having comments, however, is that I can see where people are confused and put together something to straighten it all out. The subject today is elven evolution -- the difference between the night elves, blood elves, high elves, Highborne, Shen'dralar, quel'dorei, sin'dorei and all those other terms thrown out there that make the simple process of figuring out where all those elves originated incredibly confusing. Elven evolution is fairly straightforward; it's just the extra terminology that throws people.

All elven ancestry starts with the kaldorei, which means "children of the stars" in their native tongue. These guys are night elves, and they are the first elves that ever existed and the elves from which all elven ancestry on Azeroth originates. Don't think of them exactly the same as the night elves we can play in Warcraft today, but as a slightly older version, though they looked virtually the same. Malfurion, Illidan, Tyrande, Azshara ... All of these elves were descendants of the original kaldorei.

Where the kaldorei came from is up in the air, though there are multiple theories. The night elves believe that the kaldorei were originally their own race, a primitive group of nomadic, nocturnal creatures who settled by the Well of Eternity and were blessed by Elune, transformed and subsequently adopting the name kaldorei. Ancient troll legends suggest that those nomads who settled by the Well of Eternity were actually trolls that were turned into the first kaldorei. This is where the crux of that argument about the elves' origins stems from. The elves believe that the primitive group of nomads were simply early elves who hadn't evolved into "proper" elves yet, and the trolls believe that the primitive group of nomads were actually primitive trolls who split off from the Amani Empire.

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Filed under: Lore, Know your Lore

Know Your Lore: Current Horde politics -- the Blood Elves

The World of Warcraft is an expansive universe. You're playing the game, you're fighting the bosses, you know the how -- but do you know the why? Each week Matthew Rossi and Anne Stickney make sure you Know Your Lore by covering the history of the story behind World of Warcraft.

Before I begin, I'd like to thank all of the people that commented on the last post I made that covered orc politics. Apparently orcs are a hot topic of conversation, and while I didn't respond to everyone, I did read through everything said. I do have a couple of points to address, however. First, yes, I am aware that orcs are not all brute-minded savages. There's a lot more to orcs than simple savagery; however, that savagery is something that is a basic part of what makes an orc ... orcish. It's an innate part of being an orc. Thrall seems to lack that savagery for the most part and almost seems to want to cull it from orc society in favor of a more gentle and diplomatic disposition. Garrosh, on the other hand, embraces that savagery to an alarming degree. That's where the conflict between the two of them rests. One has what the other does not. Both are extreme cases in either direction.

Second, evoking the name Garrosh Hellscream sets people off. I'm not quite sure what to make of this, but I'd have to say it's a telling statement to the storytelling department that Garrosh, regardless of how much or how little he's been developed, is provoking this kind of reaction from players. Given that most writers like to evoke some sort of emotion in their readers, I can only imagine they are secretly pleased with the outrage. Right, moving on!

The blood elves, or sin'dorei as they've taken to calling themselves, have been a largely quiet presence in Wrath of the Lich King. Given this, they may seem like an odd choice to cover. Why bother talking about a race that hasn't done much to speak of since the days of Burning Crusade? Well... that's sort of the point. While the orcs, trolls, and tauren were natural additions, and the forsaken a little different but accepted at large, the blood elves were a very odd choice for an ally to many Horde players, and through the course of Burning Crusade, there was very little light shed on what made these creatures a valuable ally to the Horde because a large amount of blood elf history stemmed from events that happened prior to World of Warcraft.

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Filed under: Lore, Know your Lore

Know Your Lore: A second look at Maiev Shadowsong


Welcome to Know Your Lore, where each week Alex Ziebart brings you a tasty little morsel of lore to wrap your mind around. Sweet, sweet lore. Mmmm. Have suggestions for future KYL topics? Leave a comment below!

As I mentioned previously, Maiev Shadowsong is one of my favorite characters in all of Warcraft lore. When I said that, the statement was quickly met with the cries of people calling her all sorts of unpleasant names. And you know what? That's the beauty of the character. Sometimes, not all good characters are people you would sit down and have a beer with. In fact, some of them are downright nasty people. I wouldn't go that far with Maiev, but I think it's okay that she's not a peaches and sunshine sort of character, especially considering what's been done to her.

Yes, Know Your Lore has covered Maiev before, but now it's my turn. Elizabeth and I have pretty substantial differences of opinion on the Warden, so I don't think you'll mind too much.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Lore, Know your Lore

Breakfast Topic: Shunning the Endgame?

From a lore point of view, everyone loves the endgame. Illidan, Kael'thas, Yoggy, Arthas/the Lich King; it's great but not everyone actually wants or has the time to spend hours in raids. A friend of mine once told me that 'WoW starts at 60' although that probably should be switched out with the current level cap. I'm sure for some players this is not the case though, far from it. As Blizzard makes the game more friendly to twinks and leveling toons by letting you disable XP gain and supplying mounts ten levels earlier, it makes me wonder if people are going to shun the endgame in favor of enjoying everything else Azeroth has to offer.

Let's imagine for a moment that you can't/won't raid any of the Wrath content. What would you do instead? I'm talking the little things in life like rolling a new toon and exploring all those newer locales that you missed since leaving to Northrend. Are you going to turn off XP and just see how it feels? Rather than do the endgame, are you going to give PvP or PvE a go? Go for that really tough achievement? What about a little role playing? Would you finally level up that second profession or give first aid, cooking and fishing a go?

Filed under: Breakfast Topics, Instances, Quests, Raiding, Bosses, Leveling, Making money, Alts, Battlegrounds, Achievements

Why now's the best time to run BC content

Spartonian over on WoW LJ has been running some old content, and he points out something that everyone should hear: now is the absolute best time to be running the old Burning Crusade endgame. He says the contest is laughably easy with current endgame levels and gear, and yet, because we're still basically at the beginning of this expansion's endgame, there are still quite a few items that can be picked off of the end bosses in Black Temple and Sunwell (not to mention you can pick up the achievements for those places if you weren't able to down them before.

And he's right -- there are some nice trinkets still found in those old instances, and who wouldn't want to complete their Warglaive set or grab a Thori'dal from Sunwell? Sure, the stats may not be the best, but until the ammo changes go in, you can save money while soloing -- and own a legendary to boot.

Of course, when Ulduar shows up, we'll all likely be too busy with the new content (be it the raids or the Argent Tournment or whatever else you got) to go back to Burning Crusade. But now, during the downtime post-OS and Naxx, is the perfect time to go back and clean up the old content.

Filed under: Items, Analysis / Opinion, Raiding, The Burning Crusade, Bosses, Wrath of the Lich King, Achievements

Blizzard's 2008 Holiday card


The eagle-eyed among you will have caught a glimpse of this yesterday, on the LLS charity post (and how awesome is it that all that money is raised by WoW players?), but here's the whole thing in all of its glory, thanks to the OC Register's Blizzard Blog: Blizzard's holiday art for the year, drawn by Samwise as usual. Looks like the villians of Starcraft, Warcraft and Diablo are celebrating in their own way as well.

Unfortunately this is as big a version as we've found so far -- usually, Blizzard releases the art as a wallpaper in their gallery (here's the art from last year), but there's no sign of this one yet. It's too bad -- I especially like Arthas and Illy D trying to get the time of day from Kerrigan and having no luck at all. Hopefully we'll see it in a much larger version on Blizzard's site soon, but in the meantime, happy holidays from Blizzard!

Update: Hehut found a slightly better (as in, "not a photograph") version over on Samwise's site.

Filed under: Events, Fan stuff, Virtual selves, Blizzard, Fan art

Hi Arthas! Want some help slaughtering the innocent?


A guildmate of mine was healing a Culling of Stratholme run last night and finally broached a question that seems to have occurred to everyone who's helped Arthas take his utilitarian moral perspective on the road: "Why are we helping this guy?"

It's a question that people used to ask about Black Morass a lot too (indeed, the first boss, Chrono Lord Deja, will ask you that himself), but Black Morass was a little more cut-and-dried. Medivh unquestionably cost many lives in bringing the first Horde through his portal, but if the orcs never set foot in Azeroth, then the world would have fallen to the Legion. The Bronze Dragonflight is unusually blunt about the cause-and-effect; war breaks out among the human kingdoms, the Alliance never occurs, the new Horde is not present at Hyjal to defend against Archimonde's forces -- indeed, the Legion may very well have swept the world without Hyjal ever occurring. So, despite the destruction wrought by the first Horde's entry into Azeroth (and you could argue, because of it), Medivh must succeed in opening the portal.

I'm not sure it's quite that straightforward with "Old Strat" -- and questions about whether it is prompt some thought-provoking questions concerning Azeroth's past, present, and future.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Instances, Expansions, The Burning Crusade, Lore, Wrath of the Lich King

All the World's a Stage: So you want to be an Alliance Warrior

This installment of All the World's a Stage is the twelfth in a series of roleplaying guides in which we find out all the background information you need to roleplay a particular race or class well, without embarrassing yourself.

From the way that warriors are available to nearly every race in the game as a sort of default fighter person, you'd think that they would be the fallback choice for any number of different sort of characters you might imagine. Any sort of regular shmuck could be a warrior right? You just gotta pick up some sort of weapon and start swinging it around at an enemy, yes?

No. Even though the Warrior class is available to almost every race in the game, every race has its own tradition of what it means to be a warrior -- it's not just a farmer with a pitchfork running around and trying to kill things. Warriors go through extensive training, learn to wield a wide variety of weapons, and train themselves in staying upright and charging about even while wearing all kinds of heavy metal on their bodies.

So today we'll look into some of the ways that the races of the Alliance understand what it means to be a warrior, and see which heroes your character might look up to, as well as the archetypes these heroes represent.

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Filed under: Alliance, Human, Night Elves, Dwarves, Gnomes, Warrior, Draenei, Lore, Guides, RP, Classes, All the World's a Stage (Roleplaying)

Shifting Perspectives: State of the class, part 1 - Balance


Every Tuesday, or possibly Thursday when the writer votes on Tuesday and spends Wednesday screaming and beating her laptop over formatting errors, Shifting Perspectives explores issues affecting Druids and those who group with them. This week Allison Robert steals John Patricelli's column once again, secure in the knowledge that she will never be forced to atone for her crime as long as she writes something nice about ferals and keeps a respectful distance from Dan O'Halloran's whip.

I hate Tauren cat form.

Good. I got that out of my system and can write something productive. Although, believe me, if I could get away with it, an entire Shifting Perspectives would be devoted to just how much I hate Tauren cat form. I mean, just look at it! Look at the angle on the horns! The cat can't bite anything! Christ, I just -- hi, Dan. Yes, I'm totally writing the column! Look at me go!

This week, mindful as always of American election-year politicking, I'm going to borrow a page from presidential duties and write a little something I like to call "State of the Class." Druids have undergone a number of changes in the transition to Wrath of the Lich King, and will acquire even more as they level to 80. We are one of Blizzard's primary targets for both gear and role consolidation, which raises a few questions over how comfortably we're going to scale in relation to pure classes and what we can realistically expect on the march to a new level cap.

The TL:DR version of this article -- I believe our future is generally bright, the Druid community continues to have a few concerns over certain aspects of the class, our focus in PvP seems to be changing the most, and I hate Tauren cat form. This is a three-part post, so let's get started with balance. However, if you want to jump ahead to feral, you'll find that here; and the third part, restoration, is here.

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Filed under: Druid, Analysis / Opinion, PvP, Instances, Expansions, Features, Raiding, The Burning Crusade, Leveling, Buffs, (Druid) Shifting Perspectives, Wrath of the Lich King, Battlegrounds, Arena

Guildwatch: Giving out epic gems to scrubs


It's strange how just one little action or one little phrase can completely unravel a whole guild ingame. Of course, you could argue that guilds are ad hoc organizations anyway, and that it shouldn't be surprising that it doesn't take much to knock down a house of cards built only through text on a screen. But for a lot of people, their guildies are good friends and fellow players, and yet one misplaced phrase or piece of loot given out the wrong way can make those ties snap right apart.

There's plenty of that in this week's Guildwatch, along with better news (downings from around the realms), and your chance to get in on some of those weak ties (recruiting notices). Click the link below to see the 'Watch, and send your tips to wowguildwatch@gmail.com. Because as weak as these ad hoc ties may be, they're still worth having.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Guilds, Instances, Humor, Guildwatch, Bosses, Forums

Tanking Rogue 3: Return of the Gaeowyn, or Illidan dies


You've seen him tank Shahraz and a 5-man Gruul run, and now Gaeowyn, of the Shards of Existence guild (US Illidan-A), has struck again. Technically, he gave us some teaser footage about this back at the end of his Shahraz video, but he's now released a full video of a successful Illidan tanking. As on his last 2 videos, Gaeowyn was able to use gear, talents, and buffs to stack enough dodge and parry to fully avoid all physical attacks (with a little help from Scorpid Sting and Insect Swarm, of course).

Alas, it looks like this will be his last video. He says that he doesn't want to wear out the concept -- after all, there's only so many videos you can make of a rogue standing in front of a giant monster and dodging a lot. In addition, he's switched characters to a priest to help his guild with a shortage of healers. I'll miss the series, myself, if only because it's great to see people conquer challenges in unconventional ways. It makes the game a little fresher and a little more interesting.

[Thanks for the forward, Allen!]

Filed under: Rogue, Machinima, Instances, Raiding, Bosses

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